Beth and Duncan

I’m really excited to get stuck into my role as your new Food Citizenship Coordinator. I live in Belfast, and will be working remotely right across the UK to listen, learn, amplify and support charities, ethical businesses and other organisations or movements working on the shift to treating people as citizens and not consumers. You can read more about the Food Citizenship movement here.

I came to this post from the UK Portfolio of the National Lottery Community Fund, where I worked for many years, most recently focusing on food justice, and digital transition in civil society. I had no plans to leave my job but when I saw this role advertised in early summer this year, a little spark went off in my head and it was all I could think about. I have known and loved the work of the Food Ethics Council for years, in particular the way it looks ethically at food systems and works to influence these to be fair and just for communities. The role of Food Citizenship Coordinator was too good to pass up.

This is a one year post, designed deliberately to give food citizenship as a concept a jolt of energy and specific resource with the aim of growing and deepening the movement. Taking the theory and concepts as developed by the Food Ethics Council and New Citizen Project, and finding ways to humanise these, amplify the great work that is being done across the UK and creating spaces for people to talk about what food citizenship means to them.

For me, food citizenship is simple. And its not. To me, food citizenship means that everyone has the right to good, affordable food, that does no harm to people and planet, and the responsibility to make the best choices they can. But there are all sorts of structural barriers that impact on people’s ability to access their rights, and we all have different responsibilities according to our circumstances.

People having choices, rights and responsibilities around food is foundational to social justice. 

It has become ever more urgent to close the gap between affordable, good food, and sustainable, planet-healthy food, as COVID19 has exposed deep fault lines in our food systems. I feel that the shift to a food citizen mindset has been progressed exponentially in this terrible time – with the note that people might not choose to call it that, or even know of it as a concept. But they know that they want to improve the food that people in their communities have access to, they know that we have to take better care of the planet’s resources, and they know that the current system has these aims in competition, rather than in sync.

I can’t finish this blog without a word about Anna Cura who has done so much to develop and strengthen the food citizenship movement across the UK. Anna recently left the Food Ethics Council to join the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission. She will continue to do great things and important work but we will miss her very much. 

My role over this next year is to listen, learn and amplify all of the ways charities and ethical businesses are embodying food citizenship in their ways of working. If I had to describe my ambition for the year in one word, that word would be ‘useful.’ The food citizenship movement has so much to bring to conversations around justice, participation, community and belonging. Over the next year, I want to work with all of you to explore ways for the movement to thrive.

So whether you have great news to share, a problem to collectively solve, a need for a facilitator or someone to talk to your members about food citizenship, give me a shout at beth@foodethicscouncil.org

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